Do you or any of your known friends or relatives suffer from night blindness or unable to see things in the dark? If the answer is in the affirmative, then there is every possibility that you or your friends or relatives have not included carrot as one of the ingredients in your food consumption.
Carrot, one of the many types of vegetables, cultivated at large in Afghanistan the most and in almost all the countries across the world, is one of the richest sources for beta carotene, a compound that can be converted by the body into Vitamin A and can also function as an antioxidant. Carrot is also a very good source for potassium and dietary fiber. It has been proved that regular consumption of carrot will help to some extent in lowering blood cholesterol levels and also helps in protecting against cancer.
According to nutritionists, one cup of cooked carrots contains as much as 70 calories, 4 grams of fiber and about 18 micrograms of beta carotene. An interesting study about this vegetable by the U.S Government revealed that a group of volunteers who consumed about one cup of carrots per day found that blood cholesterol levels in their body declined as much as 11% within three weeks. If the level of cholesterol in the blood is reduced, the risk of contracting heart-related diseases is also greatly reduced. The high-soluble fiber content in carrots, especially in the form of pectin, is responsible for lowering the cholesterol in the blood.
Regular intake of carrots will help a person avoid contracting night-blindness. However, carrots will not correct any other deficiency related to vision such as farsightedness or nearsightenness.
In addition to beta carotene, carrots contain other caretonids such as alpha carotene as well as bioflavonoids. However, one should bear in mind that the positive benefits of carrot can be realized only by consuming the vegetable and the benefits of carrot cannot be reproduced by taking isolated supplements.
One can eat carrot either as a raw vegetable, smudging off the skin but not peeling off, or else he can cook the same and consume it. Contrary to other types of vegetables which yields better results when consumed in raw state, it is advisable to have the carrots cooked before eating. It has been found that cooked carrots have more nutritional value than eating raw, because while cooking, carrots break down the tough cellular walls that encase beta carotene.
If one were to realize the true benefits of beta carotene, it is suggested that he or she adds a little amount of butter or margarine to cooked carrots. This is because beta carotene is a type of fat and is not easily soluble in water. Thus adding a little bit of additional fat will help a person realize the full benefits of beta carotene.
One needs to be aware of the minor drawbacks in consumption of carrots, especially in large quantities. It has been found that excessive consumption of carrots can cause a yellow-orangish tinge to the skin of the person. This is called as carotenemia and is generally harmless in nature. It will remain for a few weeks and once the person affected with this carotenemia gradually reduces the intake of carrots, the yellow-orangish tinge in the skin disappears and normalcy would be automatically restored.